Can Joe Burrow overtake Aaron Rodgers in the MVP race?

Joe Burrow
Joe Burrow is right in the MVP race heading into Week 18. Photo from USA Today.

Thanks to Joe Burrow, the MVP race in 2021 isn’t over yet.

Granted, Aaron Rodgers’ MVP case remains the strongest when looking at his resume from Week 1 to Week 17. It’s even better if you take his Week 1 performance out of the equation. But Burrow’s MVP odds are on the rise, making him a legitimate dark horse with one week left in the regular season.

Burrow has gone absolutely crazy over the last month, potentially changing how we view the season numbers on each MVP candidate. Even if it still looks like a long shot for Joe Burrow, the MVP race in 2021 isn’t over just yet.

Joe Burrow’s MVP race 2021

It’s just two games, but Burrow has had utterly spectacular performances in Weeks 16 and 17 to become a part of the MVP conversation. It started with 525 yards and four touchdown passes against the Ravens in Week 16 and continued with 446 yards and four touchdowns in last week’s comeback win over the Chiefs. That’s 971 yards and eight touchdown passes in the span of two games. 

Numbers boost

Those two games have brought Burrow to fifth in the NFL in passing yards, just 37 yards behind Matthew Stafford, who is second in total yards behind only Tom Brady. Those eight touchdowns have also brought him to sixth in the league, just four behind Stafford, who again, is second in this category behind Brady.

At the same time, Burrow leads the league with 8.9 yards per pass attempt, making him one of just four quarterbacks averaging at least eight yards per pass. Finally, Burrow’s quarterback rating of 108.3 is second in the league behind Rodgers, who remains the MVP favorite.

Again, it’s just two games, but those two games have brought Burrow’s individual stats on the season into MVP territory. If he continues to play at that same level in Week 18, it’s reasonable for Burrow to finish second behind Brady in passing yards and potentially finish top-3 in passing touchdowns. He’s also likely to remain close with Rodgers for the best QB rating in the league.

Team award

Individual stats aside, team accomplishments should also give Burrow’s MVP chances a lift. Before the season, the Bengals were considered by most to be the fourth-best team in the AFC North. Many pundits figured that Cincinnati would make progress but would still fall short of the playoffs. However, the Bengals have now clinched the AFC North title with one game left in the season.


There’s no doubting that Burrow has played a critical role in Cincinnati’s success. The Bengals rank 15th in points allowed and just 22nd in rushing yards. That’s not much help from the other parts of the team, meaning Burrow and the passing game have been the driving force for the Bengals all season. He’s the biggest reason why the Bengals rank fifth in the NFL in scoring and have been one of the surprise division champs in the league.

The chances

Mostly because of Joe Burrow, the MVP race in 2021 will come down to the final week of the season.

Other candidates like Brady, Josh Allen, and Jonathan Taylor hurt their MVP chances in Week 17 while Rodgers remained steady. Obviously, it’d be unlikely for someone to go from outsider to MVP in just three weeks. But if Burrow continues to play like he has the last two weeks and the other MVP candidates continue to falter, Burrow still has a chance to win MVP.

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About Bryan Zarpentine 273 Articles
Bryan Zarpentine is a freelance writer and editor with most of his work focusing on the world of sports. He is a 2008 graduate of Syracuse University and still resides in upstate New York.

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